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Sometimes being the company that VCs just don’t “get” can actually work to your advantage. Take MeUndies, the wildly successful direct-to-consumer lifestyle brand on a mission to produce the world’s most comfortable and sustainable underwear. After a seed round in 2011, they found that convincing investors to pour money into their subscription-based underwear business was more challenging than they anticipated. Compared to some of their startup peers, they often felt a little underfunded. But this turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Being largely bootstrapped taught them an important lesson that they would have never learned any other way - the importance of taking calculated risks. When you’re underfunded, you have to be savvy enough to see an opportunity when it arises, nimble enough to mobilize and take advantage of it, and brave enough to actually pull the trigger.
There’s no one out there who embodies the idea of “enjoying the journey” quite like today’s guest, YAS founder and CEO Kimberly Fowler. YAS stands for Yoga And Spinning, and is a pioneering hybrid fitness concept that combines yoga for athletes with the high-intensity cardio of spin. And quite a journey it’s been. Before she launched YAS, Kimberly had already lived everywhere from LA to New Jersey to Monaco, been an attorney, a corporate executive, and a professional endurance athlete. Kimberly’s story is one of incredible grit, creativity, and constant reinvention. In this conversation, she takes us through several pivotal moments in her life, major forks in the road that forced her to pause and ask “now what do I do with my life?”
He also has the track record to back it up. Since beginning his career in Silicon Valley in the 90s, Rafe has founded, invested in and advised dozens of startups, including Pickem Sports, Full Tilt Poker, and Crowdfunder. To date, his companies have generated over $1 billion in revenue and $450 Million in liquidity to stakeholders. He also has the distinction of being the only Awesome Office guest to win a bracelet at the World Series of Poker. But Rafe’s success hasn’t come without challenges, and his entrepreneurial path has taken him to a few dark places.
The Giving Keys has put up some impressive numbers under president Brit Gilmore’s watch: 70+ employees. 1400 retail stores around the globe that sell their products. Half a million keys sold to date. But there’s another, even more impressive number. 100 - that’s the percentage of the company’s production team that is staffed by people who are currently transitioning out of homelessness. This week, co-host Sean Spear sat down with Brit Gilmore, the president of The Giving Keys a “pay it forward company” that makes necklaces from keys engraved with inspirational messages. Besides making beautiful hand-crafted jewelry, the company also works with local nonprofits to hire individuals who were recently homeless.
By all accounts, LA’s Rareform was doing pretty well. They had a unique product that was clearly resonating with Millennial consumers - one of a kind bags and accessories made from repurposed vinyl billboards. Then a little thing called “Shark Tank” happened.